olders with grants and funding

The MolinaCares Accord recently gave a grant of $1.5 million to The Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging (COAAA) to help fund a new Social Determinants of Health Accelerator Program.

The program will develop new services to address health equity in central Ohio, including implementation of a screening tool that allows clinicians to easily identify and respond to patients’ social care needs, according to a news release.

Social determinants of health (SDOH) are nonmedical conditions that can affect someone’s health. SDOH may include problems related to home security, literacy, income or stressful life events. According to COAAA Director of Business Development Melissa Gualtieri, around 80% of a person’s health is directly impacted by SDOH.

“To improve health equity, we have to focus on these SDOH needs. If we’re able to break down some of these barriers and meet some of these needs, then overall medical costs are going to decrease, the demand for medical care is going to decrease and people are going to live longer and healthier lives,” Gualtieri told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse.

The screening tool being developed is similar to a questionnaire, and each response is connected to an ICD-10 Z Code. These hospital codes allow care providers to recognize the issues in a patient’s life which may have an impact on their diagnosis. Every time a patient’s response indicates an unmet SDOH, the clinician knows to take some kind of action. 

The program is seeking ways to implement the tool across a network of local home- and community-based services agencies. To achieve this, nurses are able to screen patients for SDOH in the home during RN interventions, Gualtieri explained.

A unique approach

The accelerator program is particularly focused on people with diabetes. Of those already screened by COAAA, 42% are food-insecure, and among those individuals, 67% are housing-insecure, Gualtieri said. Additionally, 16% of people over 65 with diabetes do not actually know that they have the disease, according to the National Institutes of Health

SDOH, such as access to food and housing, creates unique challenges that can exacerbate health problems. 

“If we’re able to assist and break down some of those barriers, meet some of those needs, it’s going to be a win-win for everyone,” Gualtieri said.

The grant money will be distributed over three years. Molina Healthcare has given over $100,000 to central Ohio agencies focused on addressing community SDOH needs.